The BBC: An Archaeological Mystery Story As Jerusalem Doc Is Pulled From Schedule

From the Commentator:

…A BBC documentary set to air last night has been mysteriously pulled from the broadcaster’s line-up and has so far failed to appear on its online iPlayer service. The programme, entitled, “Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story” was set to air on BBC Four last night at 9pm but was sharply pulled from the line-up in lieu of a programme called, “The Man Who Discovered Egypt” – a repeat of documentary about the British Egyptologist, Flinders Petrie.

The BBC told The Commentator over its audience participation telephone service that the film was initially brought in to “supplement” the BBC Four series on archaeology and history but that the station’s planning department decided at the last minute that the documentary would not “fit editorially”.

It seems odd that an editorial decision, presumably made some time ago, would suddenly be regarded as so poor that a new programme would need to be pulled from the prime spot at the last moment (in favour of a documentary from last year that was also repeated just last month).

The Jerusalem documentary was even featured in the Radio Times’ “pick of the day’s TV” for Thursday (page 103), where a certain James Gill wrote:

Archaeology is politics in the Middle East. The precarious balance of Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites in the ancient heart of Jerusalem is informed as much by what’s below ground as what’s above. Which is why evidence revealed here, suggesting that the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD70 may never have actually happened, has such severe ramifications for relations in the region. Long buried in the sands of Galilee and beneath the streets of Jerusalem, film-maker Ilan Ziv explores the archaeological challenges to the traditional narrative of the Jewish Diaspora, and asks what this means for both Israelis and Palestinians today.

Despite the film’s title, I suspect that it is concerned with a somewhat wider subject than Jewish exclusion from the city of Jerusalem either after 70 CE (debated) or after the disastrous Jewish revolt of 135 CE (generally accepted). The relevant issue, so far as any discussion of the Diaspora is concerned, is the extent to which there was a continuing Jewish presence in the wider area of Palestine after 135 CE. According to Doron Mendels of the Hebrew University (The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism, page 388):

According to [the Roman historian Cassius] Dio 580,000 Jews fell in battles. More Jews were killed, and many others were sold as slaves during the aftermath of the war… If we can believe later Jewish traditions, the Romans also enacted restrictive laws on the Jews in Palestine, such as the ban on circumcision and a prohibition against reading the Torah in the public. The result was an additional terrible blow for the Jews in Palestine, and the strengthening of the non-Jewish population of the country… Provincia Judaea became Syria Paleastina, and Aelia Capitolina was founded with a pagan temple in its midst.

The interesting questions, of course, are to what extent we can indeed “believe later Jewish traditions”, and to what extent the effects of the war and its aftermath really prompted Jewish inhabitants of Judea to go into exile, given that there was no decree actually expelling them. Certainly, a continuing presence in Galilee for centuries afterwards isn’t even a controversial prospect, as I noted here.

The BBC’s own blurb for Ziv’s documentary (the Radio Times is no longer published by the BBC) describes it slightly differently:

The exile of the Jewish people has played a central role in Christian and Jewish theology for nearly 2,000 years, even being mentioned in Israel’s national anthem and its declaration of independence. But what if the exile never actually happened?

This documentary by Ilan Ziv looks at new evidence that suggests the majority of the Jewish people may not have been exiled following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Travelling from Galilee to Jerusalem and the catacombs of Rome, the film invites us to review and rethink our ideas around the exile, raising important ethical questions about its impact on present-day Middle Eastern issues along the way.

I’m generally very wary of attempts to use evidence from the ancient past to make points about modern Israelis and Palestinians (whatever the motive may be for doing so), but archaeological discovery does have repercussions for modern senses of identity and this seems an appropriate subject to – as the BBC says – “supplement” a series on archaeology and history.

The suspicion, of course, is that the programme has been pulled because some supporters of Israel find its premise to be objectionable, for political or religious reasons. Tom Holland, who made a controversial documentary on the origins of Islam for Channel 4 last year, writes on Twitter:

Unlike Channel 4, seems the BBC lacks the cojones to show a film exploring how religions fabricate their backstories: …
8:13 AM – 27 Apr 13


Though why it should be considered news that the Jews weren’t exiled from the Holy Land after AD 70, I have no idea.
8:14 AM – 27 Apr 13

Ilan Ziv has a blog here.

UPDATE: Ziv has now written about the controversy, and anyone with a serious interest should read his full account.

In summary, the cancelled documentary was supposed to be a re-cut of his film Exile.  The BBC sent him the re-cut a few days ago for his approval, and it was only by chance that he found out that the revised documentary was about to be broadcast. He asked for more time, and was told by the BBC that “we have decided to delay transmission until… you’ve had the chance to go through it in detail”. This is not the same as the “editorial fit” reason given to the Commentator and to other enquirers.


It was only when one of the programming executives called me, I realized that there were much bigger issues for her than my complaint about being pushed into an impossible schedule.

The program executive seemed genuinely shocked that a freelance employee hired by the BBC to take part in the re-versioning process called the film “propaganda”. When I asked if this unnamed person had specific examples to support such a sweeping charge, I was told  that she claimed that , “Everything was propaganda”.  And there was more.

An “unnamed” BBC insider who I was told “liked the film,” claimed that the film props up the myth of Exile “which we all know did not happen, in order to support his political analysis“.  I learned that the cut I was given was now irrelevant, since some internal review deemed one scène with the Palestinians to be “too emotive” and they were asked to cut it down.

Ziv adds that he did not like the new Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery name given to the re-cut:

…”Exile” of course is not about a mystery, neither it is limited to archeology or to Jerusalem. The name and the illusion that one can pretend that this film is just about archeology and its mysteries are at the core I believe of Thursday’s fiasco.

He believes that executives who liked the film decided to “sneak” it into the schedules with a neutral name, and when “caught” simply panicked.

Ziv informs us that the film has already been shown elsewhere – including at a Jewish festival in Toronto – and has been well-received, and that scholars had confirmed that the film does not contain errors or misrepresentations. He is also able to defend the film’s editorial integrity with a “detailed rebuttal” citing sources. Further:

Silencing this film is silencing a possibility of discussion, debate and re examination not of the current political stalemate but of the intellectual stalemate that contributes to it.

Campus Evangelist Finds Fame With “You Deserve Rape” Sign

It is invariably distasteful to write about an attention-seeker who manages to receive a disproportionate amount of public exposure simply by being vile, but I will nevertheless note this item from the campus newspaper of the University of Arizona (the Daily Wildcat):

A student holding a sign that read “You deserve rape” ignited outrage across campus Tuesday, on the same day of a sexual assault awareness event, but administrators declined requests to remove him or his sign.

Dean Saxton — also known as Brother Dean Samuel — regularly preaches on the UA Mall in front of Heritage Hill and the Administration building… Saxton, a junior studying classics and religious studies, said his sermon was meant to convey that “if you dress like a whore, act like a whore, you’re probably going to get raped.”

When not fantasising about sexual violence against women, Saxton’s targets – inevitably – include “homos” and Muslim “pigs“. This site has a photo of Saxton posing with a copy of a 1928 book entitled Nigger to Nigger (by Edward C L Adams), and holding a Ghettopoly box.

Saxton’s “You Deserve Rape” sign is home-made, but the “You Deserve…” phrase recalls the “You Deserve Hell” banners of the “Official Street Preachers”. Saxton also has a “Jesus Hates Sin” t-shirt, written in the distinctive Rockwell font used by Official Street Preachers, and his YouTube account includes a video of the group’s leader, “Brother Ruben” (Ruben Israel),confronting Muslims at Arizona State University. He also writes:

I am going to the SOAPA Conference in LAS VEGAS this news year. Please pray a covering of protection for all that minister during the conference. The field Is being tended wisely and will be ready for Bro Jed, Patient Pat, Sis Cindy, Sinless Sarah, Bro Micah, Saint Cope and others. As we take over the U of A with the SPIRIT OF THE LORD! Also be praying for my European mission’s trip this summer and consider supporting the mission.


To help Dean in spreading the gospel, send your support to:

CMUSA, Bro. Dean, 2402 Longview Dr. Columbia, MO 65203

SOAPA is the Southeast Open Air Preachers’ Association, which is linked to the Official Street Preachers, while CMUSA is Campus Ministry USA. CMUSA is run by “Brother Jed”, and Saxton credits him as his main inspiration.

Brother Jed – real name George Smock – was profiled by the Tuscon Citizen in February:

 His style is highly confrontational and he is known to say things like, “I don’t know how the whorehouses in this town stay open — all of you sorority girls are giving it away for free!” or “A masturbator today is a homosexual tomorrow.” He will freely call the people he speaks to “homos,” “fags,” “sodomites,” “drunks,” or “fornicators.”

…His visits often mark the year’s highest recruitment times for local Atheist and Skeptics groups. Many  milk the opportunity by hosting Brother Jed Bingo.  In these games, listeners are given bingo cards with words on it that regularly appear in his narrative and those who fill their cards out first win a prize.  My copy from last year features such phrases as “Penis,” “Squirt-squirt,” “hiskey,” “Sexual Frenzy,” “Freaks,” “Get Laid,” and “Oral Sex.”  Ironically, he thinks it’s the young people he talks to who are supposedly obsessed with sex.


He also has a Wikipedia profile here. “Saint Cope”, meanwhile, is Clarence Cope, who is profiled here.

Last July, the Brother Ruben and “Official Street Preachers” targeted an Arab festival at Dearborn for abuse that included a pig’s head on a stick; the hostility they provoked was cited across right-wing news-sites as an example of Muslim  hatred of Christians (really).

In 2009 the Official Street Preachers abused worshippers at a mosque in Tampa while en route to evangelising a Super Bowl event; after I wrote about the incident on this blog, I was featured on their website, where I am described as a “beer guzzling, left wing LIBERAL”.

Glenn Beck, Boston Troofer

In the confusion following the Boston bombings, one can understand how an unverified report about how a “Saudi national” was a “suspect” might find its way into the media, and why the usual characters would seize on the story for their own purposes.

It’s less easy to work out why the claim would continue to be asserted when the real perpetrators have been identified; yet this is the basis on which Glenn Beck continues to use tragedy and destruction to promote himself with wild conspiracy theories. From the Blaze:

“While the media continues to look at what the causes were of these two guys, there are, at this hour, three people involved,” he said. “The first one is the one we are going to address.”

Beck proceeded to highlight the background of the Saudi national first identified as a “person of interest” in the Boston bombings, Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, noting that the the NTC issued an event file calling for his deportation using section 212, 3B which is proven terrorist activity.

“We are not sure who actually tagged him as a ‘212 3B,’ but we know it is very difficult to charge someone with this — it has to be almost certain,” Beck explained. “It is the equivalent in civil society of charging someone with premeditated murder and seeking the death penalty — it is not thrown around lightly.”

…”Wednesday at 5:35 p.m. the file is altered,” Beck said. “This is unheard of, this is impossible in the timeline due to the severity of the charge….You don’t one day put a 212 3B charge against somebody with deportation, and then the next day take it off. It would require too much to do it.”

“There are only two people that could revoke the deportation order — the director of the NTC could do it after speaking with each department, the FBI, the ATC, etc. — which is impossible to do in such a short period of time, — or, somebody at the very highest levels of the State Department could do it. We don’t have any evidence to tell you which one did it,” Beck said.

Beck’s claims are all based on unnamed sources, and it’s impossible to assess the accuracy or proper significance of anything he’s saying. But his supposed implications don’t make any sense: if the purpose was to spirit Alharbi out of the country, why create any sort of “deportation order” in the first place? And why would it then be cancelled?

Further, if Alharbi really was tagged “212 3B” following the bombings – and that’s a very big if – the fact that the tag was quickly discarded shows it was mistake; the idea that it “proves” something without the need for evidence or even a semi-plausible explanation is nonsense. Beck’s argument is self-referential: Alharbi was given the tag because he’s a terrorist; and how do we know he’s a terrorist? Because he was given the tag. Allegedly.

Another difficulty is why, if Alharbi was involved, he would have needed to have been present at the marathon in the first place. There’s no evidence he knew the bombers, spoke to the bombers, or helped the bombers in any way. The two men who planted the bombs made their escape just before the explosions – yet Alharbi was a victim of the bombs. Why would that be, if he was in on it?

Beck is milking a supposed anomaly – early official interest in Alharbi that was dropped as more accurate information came to light – which he insists trumps a mountain of real evidence pointing elsewhere. It’s a classic technique of the demagogue and the huckster.

Beck’s conspiracy theory also relies on an item written by Todd Starnes, a commentator at Fox:

The Saudi national who was initially detained and then ruled out as a suspect in the Boston Marathon terrorist attack had been flagged on a terror watch list and was granted a student visa without being properly vetted, sources have told me.

Once again, the whole thing hinges on unnamed “sources” who for some reason decide to spill the beans to a wingnut commentator known primarily for anti-gay ramblings rather than to any serious journalist. Fox has since deleted Starnes’ posting.

Meanwhile, Wonkette notes:

As the world waits on its tenterhooks — which are surprisingly comfortable, and shaped liked a sofa — for Glenn Beck to release his DAMNING EVIDENCE about the US government coverup of the SAUDI NATIONAL who has already been cleared in the matter of the Boston Bombing, we learn that Beck has at least four listeners. They are Homeland Security Chairman Michael T. McCaul, Chairman Jeff Duncan of the subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, Chairman Peter King of the subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, and Chairman Candice Miller of the subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security…

UPDATE: Unexpectedly, the story has been put to bed by a reporter at none other than Fox News, which perhaps helps to explain why Starnes’ article was dumped. Peter Grier at the Christian Science Monitor reports:

What [Beck] didn’t mention is that Fox News reporter Bret Baier has already looked into this whole alleged Saudi conspiracy, including the document Beck deemed so revealing… It’s “false and misleading” to use the internal document on the Saudi’s immigration status as evidence of the man’s involvement in the bombings, according to US officials quoted by Mr. Baier in a Fox video blog on April 23.

Apparently there was a “212 3B”, document, but it’s as I suspected:

…officials told [Baier] it was simply an automatic piece of customs paperwork triggered when police went to question the Saudi in the hours after the bombing.

To make sure he did not somehow get on an airplane before they could talk to him, they put him on a no-fly list. That automatically meant he was subject to visa revocation. The other language, including the reference to an “event,” followed from that.

“Also keep in mind, it’s just … a customs and border control document…. It’s not indicative of any investigative information,” said Baier.

After the FBI determined the man had no connection to the Boston crime, it took several days for the bureaucracy to scrub him out of its system.

Apparently for Beck – who affects to rail against “tyranny” and such – a customs document actually obviates the need for either any kind of investigation or due process.

Pamela Geller Endorses Rohingya “Hoax” Claim

Human Rights Watch:

 Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State since June 2012, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The 153-page report, “‘All You Can Do is Pray’: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State,”describes the role of the Burmese government and local authorities in the forcible displacement of more than 125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Burmese officials, community leaders, and Buddhist monks organized and encouraged ethnic Arakanese backed by state security forces to conduct coordinated attacks on Muslim neighborhoods and villages in October 2012 to terrorize and forcibly relocate the population.

Pamela Geller, responding to a critic:

Pamela Geller ?@Atlasshrugs
Hoax: … RT @ahmad_zaheer: @pamelageller How comes u dont mention plight of Muslims in Burma? r u a blatant Islamophobe?
 22 Apr 13

Geller’s link takes us to a text entitled Rohingya Hoax, by “Mating Tha” and published by the “Buddhist Rakhaing Cultural Association” in New York in 2009. Other sites name the author more accurately as “U Maung Tha Hla”. Details about this person are scarce, although according to one site which has reposted part of the text:

Maung Tha Hla, who is the author of The Rakhaing, companion of the periodical Rakhaing Guardian, is the founder president of the Buddhist Rakhaing Cultural Association of the United States of America.

He served twenty years with the Burma Foreign Service, which he quit during the tenure of office of Deputy Permanent Representative of Burma to the United Nations Organization.

This may raise suspicions, but the rhetoric of his self-published tome speaks for itself:

The paltry subterfuge of an imaginary people was hyperbolized in so much profusion that it has profoundly suffused into confusion of the general public, people of the Western world in particular. No wonder that the image of fictional Rohingya, which was feigned to attain the legal status of immigrant Bengali Muslims, gained favour of apologists and liberal ists. Adapted to a culture of deceit the Chiftagonian separatists gussied up their claim in fancy and finesse, distorting nebulous events of history convenient for the Rohingya chicanery. The purveyors of lies did not need facts to hoodwink the general public, It is pretty simple to spot the wile, if one would only go back to history.

Rakhaing, a traditional Buddhist land, has been in the Islamic phantasm for centuries. Rambunctious as it has been in the time since the demise of monarchy, the woeful state of affairs of Rakhaing, to the gravest extent imaginable, was aggravated by transplant Chittagonian Bengalis who toyed with the idea of gaining dominion over the land, which the Muslims had failed to materialize in the past centuries; but their aspiration, the sequel of long-run objective to fulfill the Islamic inspiration, did not die. They continued to activize the growing breath of the preordained ambition in capricious strategy and freakish tactics.

And so on. Even allowing for poor English, it’s clear that this is not a work that can contribute in any way to a morally serious assessment of the conflict in Burma.

Geller’s use of the word “hoax” here is superficially clever; if challenged on details about anti-Rohingya violence, she can claim that she was referring merely to historical claims rather than to the reality of current events (even though her source material is a joke). However, as I noted last July, Geller takes the view that violence in Burma is the inevitable result of “Muslim immigration”; prior to that, she expressed support for militant anti-Muslim Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka.

Sockpuppeting Rabbi Claims He Used a “Pseudonym”

This one’s a few days old; Rabbi Michael Broyde –  academic director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University and last year reportedly a contender for next UK Chief Rabbi – writes to a past president of the International Rabbinic Fellowship:

About twenty years ago, I and a friend began jointly occasionally using a pseudonym to write about matters of halacha and Jewish public policy… This pen name had a literary career for about 15 years, and included letters to the editor to various Torah publications as well as other comments, publications and emails.

…At one point when we were both interested in the IRF and considering joining, this pseudonym joined the IRF and participated vigorously in the debates on its internal email list, which we found full of wise and interesting comments.

…Recently, someone else who I don’t know has started posting using this pen name which has encouraged a journalist to investigate my pseudonymous activity.

Broyde was recently exposed as having written under the name “Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser” by the Jewish Channel’s Newsdesk. Broyde was undone in large part due to IP evidence (not the first such case), although his apparent knowledge of private IRF discussions seems also to have raised suspicions.

Broyde’s letter elides the difference between a pseudonym and a fake identity – and one suspects this is deliberate, as he’s clearly an intelligent man. Broyde did not simply hide his identity, which may be legitimate where there is no conflict of interest or intent to evade responsibility or deceive – he gave his creation a bogus biography and even home address. Further, he used this fake identity to promote his professional persona, which certainly is a conflict of interest.

The suggestion that “someone else” has now taken over what he calls a “pen name” is a weird detail – why would anyone else besides his “friend” have known that the Goldwasser name was fake and therefore available for use? What motive would this person have for doing so, and for continuing to use the name to promote Broyde?

Emory is currently “investigating” Broyde’s behaviour, and he is on “indefinite leave of absence” from his position on the Rabbinical Council of America’s Beit Din.

If Emory decides to deprive him of his academic position, perhaps Broyde could relocate to London; he will be encouraged to hear that Birkbeck College still employs Orlando Figes, despite Figes’ use of  a sockpuppet to puff his own work and to attack rivals – and his use of a libel action threat to attempt to suppress the truth.

Injured Saudi Student Still the Focus of Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories promoted by Pamela Geller, Steve Emerson, Michael Savage, and Walid Shoebat (oh, and Jim Hoft, of course) UPDATE: and Glenn Beck

A couple of days ago I noted Pamela Geller’s promotion of a story at Frontpage by a certain Daniel Greenfield concerning  Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the Saudi student who was injured in the Boston attack. I added it as an update simply to log how low Geller and her allies would go, given that the story was based on a wilful and flagrant misrepresentation of Alharbi’s Facebook profile – Alharbi had just been cleared of any involvement, so one would have thought that would be the end of it.

Apparently not, thanks to Steve Emerson; WorldNetDaily reports:

“I just learned from my own sources that he is now going to be deported on national security grounds next Tuesday, which is very unusual,” Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism told Sean Hannity of Fox News Wednesday night.

The Reuters news agency reported President Barack Obama met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Wednesday, noting “the meeting was not on Obama’s public schedule.”

After that meeting was mentioned, Emerson told Hannity, “That’s very interesting because this is the way things are done with Saudi Arabia. You don’t arrest their citizens. You deport them, because they don’t want them to be embarrassed and that’s the way we appease them.”

The obvious implication is that Alharbi was indeed involved in the attack, and that Obama is seeking to protect a terrorist from facing justice. How this would be achieved without anyone blabbing about the conspiracy is – as ever – never explained, but Emerson’s story has since been debunked; according to The Hill (H/T: LGF)

Administration officials told The Hill on Thursday that news reports about the student injured in the bombing are confusing him with another student from Saudi Arabia who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for violating his visa.

The first Saudi student is not a suspect in the Boston bombings but was hospitalized after the attack and questioned. Authorities also searched his apartment in Revere, a suburb of Boston.

In the meantime, Geller has predictably thundered that “American People Must Demand the Full Story”, while Aaron Klein bashed out a second piece for WorldNetDaily, with input from veteran bandwagon-jumper Walid Shoebat. Terry Krepel notes:

…the guy shares a last name with “al-Qaida operatives.” Not that the guy is an Al Qaeda operative, not that his family members are Al Qaeda operatives — only that he shares a last name with them.

It’s not until the ninth paragraph that Klein gets around to admitting that “it is not clear whether the Alharbi questioned as part of the marathon probe is a member of the well-known Saudi clan.”

…Further, it appears Klein is basing his article on something published by Walid Shoebat, who even more explicitly ties Alharbi to “Al-Qaeda terrorists” based solely on his last name.

Shoebat also outlined his conspiracy on the radio, in conversation with Michael Savage (this guy); Alternet notes:

…Savage invited a self-proclaimed “ex-PLO terrorist” named Walid Shoebat onto his April 16 show. For a full hour, Shoebat outlined the key players, from the Obama administration to Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia to longtime Hillary Clinton assistant Huma Abedin to the CIA, FBI, US military, liberals and gay activists, all united in a conspiracy to hide the true Saudi identity of the bomber, pin the blame on a more convenient target, and advance the creeping Islamicization of America.

Savage urged Shoebat along at each lurid twist and turn, heaping layers of anti-Muslim vitriol atop his guest’s bizarre diatribes.

Another character touting Shoebat is Accuracy in Media award-winner Jim Hoft, who is very much the Ed Wood of Wingnut commentators. Hoft writes at his Gateway Pundit site:

Tonight Steven Emerson told Sean Hannity that the non-suspect Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi is being deported back to the Saudi Kingdom.

Barack Obama met with the Saudi foreign minister today. It was not on public schedule.

UPDATE: Shoebat Foundation reported that ali Alharbi had links to several Al-Qaeda terrorists.

Hoft also has a contribution of his own, in the form of a photo taken of Albarbi at a picnic with about 25 other Saudis. One of these has a green-tinted Guy Fawkes mask perked on his head, which Hoft notes darkly is “an Anonymous mask”.

Shoebat regularly trades on his Arabic background, which he uses to compensate for the fact that in fact he has no special knowledge and no real insight; I previously discussed his attacks on Huma Abedin here (Shoebat has also claimed to have had an inside track on the origin of the Innocence of Muslims YouTube video, and he has gone so far as to claim that his Arabic skills have shown that we should re-write the Bible in order to discern the prediction of a “Muslim Anti-Christ”).

In 2010, Emerson claimed to have “shocking revelations” about Faisel Rauf  – that turned out to be a dud, too.

UPDATE: It goes on – Right Wing Watch now notes (19 April):

Near the end of today’s radio broadcast, Glenn Beck declared that the cover-up of the Saudi link to the Boston Marathon bombing makes this the second most important thing (behind 9/11) that he has ever covered in his broadcasting career…. 

Beck then went on to send a semi-coded message to those in the upper level of the government warning that they had better come clean about this Saudi national because The Blaze has information that reveals that he “is a very bad, bad, bad man” which will be revealed on Monday.

Beck’s claims have also been endorsed by David Reaboi, who is sidekick to Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy. Noting the RWW post, Reaboi writes on Twitter:

Lookie-lookie: Stalinist jerks at @RightWingWatch publicizing Beck’s ICE scoop. Boy, Monday’s gonna be fun!

UPDATE 2: Shoebat continues, with an “exclusive” translation from Saudi media:

“Michelle Obama visited the two injured Saudis Abdulrahman Ali Essa Al-Salimi Al-Harbi and Nura Khalid Saleh Al-Ajjaji to check on their medical conditions.”

…Now, contrarians to those with concerns about this visit will likely say that the first lady was simply paying visits to all the victims in the hospital, of which Alharbi was one and had been cleared two days earlier.

In light of recent reports that Alharbi was scheduled for deportation on ‘national security grounds’, the first lady’s visit takes on much added significance if those reports are true.

…DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano… actually never really answered the question [of Alharbi’s deportation]; she just got rankled and blew it off.

Just because the Obamas were visiting all the injured and the deportation story has fallen apart doesn’t mean that Michelle Obama didn’t visit him as part of some sort of conspiracy! Naturally, WND and the Blaze have picked up the story.

Cindy Jacobs Claims God Warned Her about Boston Attack

Neo-Pentecostal leader Cindy Jacobs, last week:

Cindy Jacobs ?@cindyjacobs 9 Apr
Must take threats from North Korea seriously-possiblly April 15th. Need to pray protection for both the US and South Korea and Japan.
11:38 AM – 9 Apr 13

15 April – as was widely reported – is celebrated in North Korea as the birthday of Kim Il-Sung, and Jacobs is clearly speculating that the anniversary would be the day on which current tensions boil over.

That’s not what happened, but Jacobs is  now using the tweet to imply that she has nevertheless has a supernatural power of prophecy:

Cindy Jacobs ?@cindyjacobs 15 Apr
Bombings in Boston, Massachusetts on Patriots Day, April 15th. I had been warning we needed to pray about danger today. Please pray!
2:30 PM – 15 Apr 13

Cindy Jacobs ?@cindyjacobs 15 Apr
I had tweeted that we need to pray on this day. Also been warning about a multiple bombing taking place in America! So sad! Two have died
2:32 PM – 15 Apr 13

Cindy Jacobs ?@cindyjacobs 16 Apr
Did not tweet about warnings of Mumbai type attack. Warned different groups in private. Did tweet about April 15th six days ago. Praying!
5:48 PM – 15 Apr 13

Jacobs  regularly claims to have received knowledge of terrorist plots, which are then thwarted and exposed due to prayer. Right Wing Watch (which drew attention to one of the most recent Tweets) notes claims she has made concerning Dallas, Benghazi, and, most recently, Niagara Falls.

Jacobs is an “Apostle” in C. Peter Wagner‘s Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders (ACPE); she is also “Co-Founder, Generals International; Founder, Deborah Company; Apostle, Reformation Prayer Network (RPN);”

(Tweets in Twitter’s default timezone, which is PDT)

Pamela Geller Abuses Anyone who Doesn’t Know Whether Boston Attack was “Jihad”

As Alex Seitz-Wald notes at Salon, Pamela Geller “does what we all expect her to do after the Boston Marathon bombing”: which is, of course, to declare at once that the attack was “jihad”, and to abuse anyone who suggests it might be better to wait for further information:

Shame on you, carrying water for murderers (1)… Another spokesman for killers (2)… dont you care about the slaughter you abet? (3)

Etc. Geller’s confidence is based in part on an NY Post report that a Saudi national had been “detained” as a suspect, although details are currently uncertain. However, it also fits a pattern which again leads me to believe that Geller’s real target is not just Islam, but reasonable discourse and behaviour.

Of course the attack may well turn out to have been the work of Islamic extremists, but there are also other possibilities. Geller – and her close associate Robert Spencer – don’t wish merely to whip up hatred; they also wish to stigmatise the process of thinking about things reasonably.

If Islamic extremists are in due course shown to have been the attackers, Geller will present herself as someone who was willing to name the enemy while others were either weak and vacillating or attempting to suppress the truth; should she turn out to be in the wrong, she will either sniff and move on or delete anything that makes her look foolish (she took the latter course after denouncing the media for failing to expose Obama for supposedly wearing a Muslim ring).

It’s a policy that can lead to double volte faces; in March 2012, Spencer immediately suggested that a gun attack in France had been the work of “Islamic antisemitism”; when reports then suggested a neo-Nazi connection he got cold feet and deleted his post; when an Islamic extremist was later confirmed he then returned to the subject without any acknowledgement of his moment of doubt in the face of conflicting evidence.

UPDATE: Geller went on to promote a post at Frontpage by a certain Daniel Greenfield concerning  Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the Saudi student who was injured in the attack. Greenfield poked around in Alharbi’s Facebook page, to extract a few details presented in a way to appear sinister:

Saudi Bombing Suspect: “If Today Really Was the Last Day, How Would You Spend It?”

That cheerful message was reposted by Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi from the Boston Muslim Community on his Facebook page last year. FOX News is reporting that Alharbi (harb = sword) is the “person of interest” being questioned. 

…Alharbi’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated in a while. He is a Saudi student and poses in the photo above holding a golden gun on Saudi Day.

Greenfield does provide a link to the Facebook page,  but it’s clear that’s he’s writing in bad faith; the “last day” comment was posted on 20 December, and was obviously a casual reference to the Mayan calendar; the meaning of “harb” has no bearing on anything, and the gun pose photo (which he reproduces) is obviously non-aggressive and jokey (and the apparent gun may actually be a novelty item).

Further, Greenfield ignores other details: Alharbi’s Facebook profile photo shows him enjoying himself in Disneyland, and his posts include a video comedy skit entitled “Things NOT to DO in Masjid” and a YouTube link to a TED talk by comedian Maz Jobrani entitled “A Saudi, an Indian and an Iranian walk into a Qatari bar”. There is zero evidence on the site that he’s a fanatic, and some real evidence that he’s not. Greenfield’s article is pseudo-journalism; and Geller’s promotion of it, while not surprising, is opportunistic and unprincipled.

Todd Bentley Claims Miracles in South Africa, “Hundreds of Muslims and Hindus” Converted

A press release from GOD TV (H/T Bene Diction Blogs On):

Todd [Bentley] has been touring South Africa this month and many healing miracles have been documented. These include a girl who was born deaf in both ears and mute, who spoke for the first time and a man blind in his left eye who was instantly able to see. Over 10,000 people have attended the meetings in Durban and hundreds of Muslims and Hindus have committed their lives to Christ.

I noted Bentley’s planned schedule for South Africa at the end of February. Bentley himself adds:

My wife, Jessa, was healed of a severe fever on the first day of the Great Awakening, South Africa meeting. Her healing came after a shower. The glory fell and her whole body was covered in gold. The gold was in all three hotel rooms where we stayed and now it is showing up in the meetings. It is now appearing on local muslims and hindus. After the gold came, six diamonds were discovered.

The press release includes an endorsement from Rick Joyner:

“God showed me when I first met Todd what he was called to do. He is going to lead many millions to God and he has just started. Lakeland was only a preview of what the Lord is going to do through Todd Bentley. Those who have been forgiven much, love much.”

Joyner recently concurred with Bentley that the death of a British MP from cancer was due to the MP’s opposition to Bentley coming to the UK. Joyner is a significant link between neo-Pentecostalism and “the right” more generally, with close links to the likes of Jim Bakker, Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, and Alan Keyes.

Bentley is controversial for a number of reasons: his Lakeland revival ended with an apparent sexual indiscretion; his healing method, by his own account, on at least one occasion involving kicking someone in the face; and his claims to supernatural empowerment are not just extravagant but also rather odd, in particular involving an angel named “Emma” (Bentley was also a juvenile sex offender before his conversion, and served time in prison).

However, none of this is putting off GOD TV:

GOD TV is once again interrupting its schedule to carry Revival LIVE as it happens, this time from Durban, South Africa where Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley has seen an outbreak of miracles in his meetings. Hosted by Rory Alec, the Great Awakening Healing Revival will air LIVE on Friday April 12 through Sunday April 14 at 1pm (EST) daily with replays in prime time.

…Todd Bentley was with Rory & Wendy Alec for ‘Revival Alert’ in Jerusalem in January where he shared his heart for revival and his take on what happened five years ago at Lakeland.

GOD TV began in the UK and is now based in Jerusalem; the Alecs, however, have a background with the South African Rhema movement, and one of Bentley’s events is at a Rhema church. I wrote about the organisation here; it broadcasts a wide range of neo-Pentecostal and evangelical material. GOD TV’s Facebook page carries a number of posts about Bentley in South Africa, including a photo of a yellow smudge of some sort which “seems to reveal the outline of a glory angel alongside the lady who is worshipping”.

In the UK, the GOD TV broadcasts are being streamed to Trevor Baker’s Revival Fires church in Dudley.

Pamela Geller to Speak at Synagogues Following Cancellation

ZOA official describes Geller as “an American and Jewish treasure”

As has been very widely reported, a planned talk by anti-Islam demagogue and Birther conspiracy-monger Pamela Geller at the Men’s Club of the Great Neck Synagogue in New York State has been cancelled; this is not because the synagogue has had a moment of moral clarity, but rather due to “security concerns“:

As the notoriety and media exposure of the planned program this Sunday have increased, so has the legal liability and potential security exposure of our institution and its member families. In an era of heightened security concerns it is irresponsible to jeopardize the safety of those who call Great  Neck Synagogue home, especially our children, even at the risk of diverting attention from a potentially important voice in the ongoing debate. Accordingly,  the Great Neck Synagogue Men’s Club will no longer be sponsoring the appearance of Pamela Geller this coming Sunday, and no event will be taking place in our facility.

Details of any actual threats are hard to come by – a puff-piece for Geller by Caroline Glick mentions only “a media campaign attacking her as a bigot” (a reference to a critical article by Rabbis Michael White and Jerome Davidson), while Geller writes that “Habeeb [Ahmed, Nassau County Commissioner on Human Rights] and his accomplices ordered their minions to strongarm the shul, make calls, and get the synagogue leaders to cancel a proud Jew scheduled to speak at their synagogue.”

But an association with Geller was always going to be toxic for any organisation that seeks to maintain a serious reputation: Geller supports the English Defence League, and she claims that Obama is a secret Muslim who has forged his birth certificate (she also famously promoted the claim that Obama’s father was Malcolm X, although she denies, with some irritation, the suggestion that she actually believes such a thing herself). Geller also trivalises the Holocaust, for example by throwing a “Nazi” accusation at Elena Kagan. Etc. etc. – the suggestion that she’s “a potentially important voice”  in any serious discussion is laughable.

Naturally, Geller seeks to portray the venue’s decision to cancel as an attack on her free speech, even though the synagogue does not cite any evidence of threats – and Geller is hardly in a position to complain about “minions”, given her own history of rabble-rousing protests.

Statements of support for Geller have come in from Helen Freedman, Executive Director of Americans for a Safe Israel (“Those of us who understand the dangers inherent in this cowardice will work even harder with Pamela Geller and the others sounding the alarm”); Steve Goldberg, National Vice-Chair of the Zionist Organization of America (“Pamela can wear the fear and hatred of the Islamic fascists as a badge of honor. Her courage makes her an American and Jewish treasure”); and Orit Arfa, Executive Director of the Creative Zionist Coalition (“Why don’t the good imams and rabbis protest the very real and frightening civil rights abuses committed in the name of Islam and which Geller exposes so courageously?”).

Meanwhile, Geller has found alternative venues:

Two courageous and magnificent Rabbis have asked me to speak on Sunday. Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky of the Chabad, Great Neck and Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison, New Jersey have both invited me to speak at their synagogues on Sunday.

As Charles Johnson notes, Rosenberg previously came to wider attention as the head of “Rabbis for Romney”. Geller previously cooperated with a Chabad Rabbi at a protest in Yorba Linda, California.

Geller’s talks are to be followed by a protest outside the Human Rights Commission office (which presumably will be closed for the weekend) to demand the dismissal of Habeeb Ahmed from his Commissioner post. Geller will be joined by Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom; one wonders whether the two men have patched things up since Bostom accused Spencer of plagiarism.